Economic Security for Women

February 8th 2022

Stephen Koukoulas dives into the heart of policy reforms and their application in closing pay gaps between men and women. He explores key economic issues such as superannuation, childcare, education and training.

There is a need for economic policies that increase pay rates and balance pay rates for roles filed by both men and women. Stephen Koukoulas also calls for the increase in superannuation, and the provision of childcare support.

For four years I was the economist in residence at Economic Security for Women. They were a body that looked at the key economic security issues and what policy reforms are needed to address what's a significant imbalance between the genders, between males and females, in terms of pay, superannuation, access to childcare, and issues that will promote the long-run economic security for women.

It's an issue dear to my heart. It's something that I'm really passionate about when I examine what policy reforms can be implemented to close the pay gap, because we know that men, on average, earn 15% more than women. That's a fact. We know that in superannuation, men retire with something like 40% more than women. In fact, there are many older women who are approaching retirement with very low superannuation balances, and if they're still paying mortgages or still paying rent, it means that their retirement savings are very low.

There are issues that can be implemented, policies that can be changed to improve not only the pay level of women but also the superannuation balances of women and then things like childcare support. Childcare is an element of economic reform, it's not a social welfare policy. It's something that improves the workforce participation of women.

The education and training system is another thing that allows women to get to those high management roles in the business sector and government where the money and pay levels are much higher - and at the moment that's where the imbalance in the pay rates come from. After all, we have a current situation where the Prime Minister, Treasurer, and Leader of the Opposition are all male - and they get paid a lot more than backbenches.

This issue is permeating through lots of different parts of society and the economy. I urge you to look at these issues and ask what you can do about it in your business and how can you approach it at both a professional and personal level. At the end of the day, it comes down to having a good skill level where you can get that high paying job with superannuation and childcare that allows both women and men to participate in the workforce.

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Stephen Koukoulas is one of Australia’s leading economic visionaries, past Chief Economist of Citibank and Senior Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister.

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